Planners seek impact assessment for cultural heritage sites
• As Ayinde becomes NITP president
Amid current activities to boost development control efficiency, town planning professionals have canvassed for the review of enabling laws to mandate Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment (CHIA) as a prelude to granting development permits.
They argued that collaboration between the Town Planners Registration Council of Nigeria (TOPREC) and National Commission for Museums and Monuments would strengthen the legal basis for the protection of cultural assets through inclusive national and state policies, guidelines as well as regulations in line with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO’s) guidelines and the Washington Charter.
The planners had observed that urbanisation poses a serious challenge to the continued existence of cultural heritage, adding that physical planning laws and institutions do not give due consideration to the protection and integration of cultural heritage in physical plans and developments.
In a communiqué issued after its 51st National Conference/Annual General Meeting in Abuja, members of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), also called for the review of the Nigerian Urban and Regional Law of 2004 (as amended) and domestication of the same by all states of the federation.
They said such amendments should be in line with contemporary requirements and peculiarities of individual state and implementation of the same to address the disconnect subsisting between urban growth and investment on infrastructure in the cities.
NITP observed that most towns and cities do not have physical development plans to guide their growth while the few ones prepared are either not implemented or applied in breach.
They said physical development plans should be reinforced as legislative documents and gazetted to strengthen implementation as well as criminalise attempts at the deviation from, and abandonment of plans.
“Values need to be placed on plans with commitment displayed through finance, human capital, and/or other resources. The instances of zero budgetary allocation for plan preparation by some states for upward of five years are largely responsible for the low ebb of plans to guide city development.”
The institute noted that the COVID-19 pandemic is a clarion call to hasten physical planning activities through intensified urban renewal, urban planning, and economic revitalisation.
They advised that the informal sector should be integrated into land-use planning with a view to addressing issues arising from the proximity of the market to crowd-pulling land uses such as major highways.
“To promote sustainable urbanisation, government at all levels should pay urgent attention to rural and regional development planning and build necessary synergy between physical and economic planning.”
The highpoint of the conference was the election of a new president, Mr. Olutoyin Ayinde, and other executive committee members to pilot the affairs of the body.
In his acceptance speech, Ayinde told his team “what we have started today is a journey of total dedication, sacrifice, and commitment to see our institute rises and shines again.
“ It won’t come by complacency, nor will it happen by doing things the way they were done before. Everyone must justify their election or be ready to throw in the towel in the middle of the administration if they are unable to cope with the demands of the assignment.”